Val x Love – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

Aren’t valkyries supposed to be servants who determined who died in battle and should be brought to Valhalla? Evidently, Val x Love has already taken liberties there as its valkyries are warriors who get stronger by loving a man (how such loving is performed I assume is up to them). Yep, that’s anime for you. And look, I’m not going to criticize the show for using mythology so loosely. If that was the case, I would’ve hated the original Yu-Gi-Oh! a long time ago. I do get the need to stand out too; the most creative the harem genre got this year is star a tutor…twice. I’m just saying: this is a pretty odd pitch for a harem series.

Oddly enough, what stood out to me most about the premiere wasn’t the harem but the harem protagonist. Poor Takuma (Yuya Hirose) seems to have it rough. His towering build horribly belies his anxious self and gets people calling him a demon. As silly as it is for him to bemoan the fact that he’s surrounded by and lives with nine girls, you get where he’s coming from. The guy just wants to study and get good grades; he ain’t got time for hormones to take hold. Add onto the fact that he’s forced to help nine valkyries level up and fight monsters and it’s hard to not feel sympathetic towards the guy and his situation. That said, this isn’t to say that all Takuma seems to do is sulk. The climax of the premiere does show that he can be brave when push comes to shove. No doubt, that’ll be where his character development is centered on.

In the girls’ defense, the only reason they don’t make much an impression is because they’re all introduced at once. It’s hard to really convey enough characterization in just one episode. Natsuki (Kaede Hondo) appears to be the main girl of the Saotome sisters but all I could really make of her character is that she’s very popular at school and she’s very tsundere towards Takuma.

Well, okay, there is one way the girls make an impression and boy does this anime not shy away in this regard. Ecchi fan service is looking abundant in this anime. Aside from the usual stuff like catching the girl(s) midway through getting dressed, the main excuse Val x Love uses is having the Saotome sisters express intimacy towards Takuma so that they can power up in their warrior forms. This is demonstrated in this episode when Natsuki takes most of her clothes off and kisses Takuma after he protects her from a monster’s attack. Why Natsuki has to be in nothing but her panties is solely for the sake of eye candy. If not crass, it’s definitely far too silly looking. It feels like something taken out of Fate/stay night and goddamn it, this anime had to remind me of Fate.

While I won’t go as far as to say I dislike what I saw of Val x Love, I am on the fence of watching more of it. I’ve warmed up to the harem genre as of late but ecchi still isn’t my cup of tea. I prefer it when fanservice isn’t the #1 reason to watch something. That said, this episode breezed through introducing its cast of characters and I’ll admit that I’d at least like to know more about them.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Val x Love on HIDIVE.

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